The Bruins, a No. 11 seed in the South Region, will play sixth-seeded SMU, whose coach, Larry Brown, formerly coached UCLA.
UCLA was ranked 48th in the RPI, 44th in the BPI and 41st in rankings compiled by stats guru Ken Pomeroy. But when viewed as a whole, the Bruins’ resume hardly seemed NCAA tournament-worthy.
Stevens, one of the better NCAA bracket prognosticators around, did not have UCLA in his final field.
“One of the tougher decisions the committee had to make,” Scott Barnes, chairman of the selection committee, told CBS after the brackets were revealed. “They were gaining steam, they had a good strength of schedule. … I think the eye test was a plus in putting them into the field.”
A team that went 6-4 over its final 10 games was gaining steam? Whose biggest nonconference win came against Long Beach State? Really?
Twitter reached an easy consensus: The committee screwed up.
Other, more deserving teams probably have a legitimate gripe. Take Colorado State, which was No. 29 in the RPI. Only one team — Missouri State in 2006 — ever was ranked higher in the RPI and got left out of the tournament, and the Rams are the only team ranked in the top 30 of the RPI to be left out of the field since the tournament expanded to 68 teams.